A Thornton Heath man who punched and kicked a stranger to death in "senseless and unprovoked act of brutality" was jailed for life today after refusing to reveal his motive for the murder.

Mark Patten, 30, of Galpins Road, beat Menelaos Aligizakis to the floor before stamping on his head while "screaming hysterically" just moments after meeting him in Waterloo in the early hours of January 3.

Mr Aligizakis, 43, a Greek academic, classical pianist and former teacher at Wimbledon schools, died of head injuries at the scene of the attack.

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Patten was jailed today for a minimum of 17 years today at Inner London Crown Court, where he was found guilty of murder on Thursday last week.

He has never explained why he killed Mr Aligzakis, who taught at Wimbledon College and Ursuline School in Merton and was described by his parents "a heart-warming soul to all the darkness in the world". 

His father George said: "I am a retired barrister and during the entire length of my career, with all the cases that I have had to handle and all the ugliness that I have seen and felt, nothing compares to such a horrific loss as is the loss of my son, in such an uncomprehending manner.

"I am really devastated and I still don't think that words can describe my psychological emptiness for life following this horrific loss of my beloved child."

Mr Aligizakis, who lived in Athens and was visiting friends in London for the Christmas holidays, spent the hours before his death in the same club as his killer but the two did not meet inside.

CCTV footage played during his trial showed Patten arriving at the club moments after his victim at 12.30am and leaving with a friend three minutes before him at 2.29am.

The three met as they walked along Waterloo Road towards Waterloo station and engaged in friendly conversation before Patten launched his assault.

Mr Aligizakis, who had his hands in his pockets and was unable to defend himself, fell to the floor under Patten's punches. Patten then kicked and stamped on his motionless victim's head while "screaming hysterically", the court heard.

He and his friend attempted to board a bus but were prevented by the driver and passengers who had seen the attack. They fled on foot towards Waterloo Bridge, where police officers arrested Patten.

A passing rickshaw driver and passenger stopped to help Mr Aligizakis and called for an ambulance, but he was pronounced dead at 3.30am.

A post-mortem examination gave the cause of his death as blunt force trauma to the head.
Patten was charged with murder on January 4.

Mr Aligizakis's mother Irini, who along with his father was too frail to attend the trial, said: "The murderer not only killed Menelaos but his family as well. 

"Joy has been replaced with pain, hopelessness and despair, not just for myself, his mother, but for his father and sister. 

"A hug from my child solved all the problems. I have saved his text messages full of love, I read them everyday and with the passing I feel his absence even greater, the unbearable loss. 

"His father has become a hunched over little old man who drags his feet from his depression. I hurt so very much for my daughter, my husband and myself for the unbearable absence of our child. 

"But most of all I hurt for Menelaos, my child, who without reason, someone took his beautiful life."

His father added: "I have not only lost a son, but a friend, a guardian, a heart-warming soul to all the darkness in the world, who despite the fact he didn't follow my profession, he was a fighter of life and during all these years of my retirement he was a surge of energy which kept me going and doing things, and among others engage with literature which was my deepest desire during the hard years of my legal career.

"Moreover, my son was a joy in our lives as he filled our house with all his friends and colleagues who visited us frequently in order to exchange ideas, philosophical points of view and political discussions with me and my son. 

"My son was a giver either financially or emotionally and everyone who had met him made the same comment; there wasn't anything he wouldn't do for anyone who needed help. He was an inspiration to us, his family, his students and his friends."

Detective Chief Inspector Will Reynolds, from the Metropolitan Police's homicide unit, said Mr Aligizakis's death had "totally devastated" his family and friends.

He added: "His death was a result of a senseless and unprovoked act of brutality inflicted by Patten who has given no real reason as to why he attacked a defenceless man who had simply been enjoying a night out."